The Biodiversity and Protected Area Management Program (BIOPAMA) initiated its activities in the Caribbean the week of January 21st in the city of Bridgetown, Barbados. The successful gathering included representation from governments and regional and international institutions, including IUCN member organizations. The University of West Indies (UWI)-Cave Hill Campus was home to this first BIOPAMA workshop in the Caribbean, thanks to the support of UWI’s Centre for Resource Management and Environmental Studies (CERMES), also an IUCN member.
BIOPAMA has the potential for boosting regional and national efforts in protected area management through the provision of both data and capacities in the Caribbean. Workshop leaders stressed the importance of coordinating efforts with different ongoing initiatives, creating alliances and making good use of already existing capacities. The enthusiastic response from participants provided a promising start to Programme efforts in the region.
Workshop participants also received information on BIOPAMA from the different program partners: IUCN, WCPA, the EC’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), the Secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), and the Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Initiative. Mr. Saboto Caesar, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ Minister of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries, provided the keynote speech, with remarks on the importance of BIOPAMA and the significance of using it to address key needs of decision and policy makers in the region. Participants also received essential background information on the current state of protected areas on both regional and global scales, with particular focus on IUCN’s work to develop “A Global Standard for Key Biodiversity Areas” (with the WCPA-SSC Joint Task Force on Biodiversity), the process to upgrade the UNEP-WCMC World Database on Protected Areas, and the work of The Nature Conservancy. Participants discussed data and information needs, along with capacity development needs, for the management of protected areas in the Caribbean as well as the institutions that can help address both of these Programme components.
The workshop wrapped up with proposals from participants for key activities to consider in a draft of the BIOPAMA work plan. The plan identifies actions for BIOPAMA in the Caribbean for 2013 through 2015.